It seems like yesterday that the NFL season was just beginning. Now, with six weeks left, the season is in the home stretch, with teams playing for home field advantage, wild card spots, and even the respectability of just one win. This week is the official start of must-win and nothing-to-lose games.
Make your picks 9news.com/pickem.from the 9NEWS Pro Football Pick'Em contest presented by US Mortgages:
Saints at Panthers - Despite their records, both of these teams still have a shot of making the playoffs, so this is a must-win game for both. The Panthers would have to win out, beginning with this game. The Saints, however, fresh off a game that was stolen from them by Denver, will be fired up enough to upset the Panthers at home - where home losses this season are starting to not look like upsets.
Cardinals at Vikings - The Cardinals - barely squeaking out a victory against the abysmal 49ers - have not performed up to expectations so far this season. The Vikings, who are 3-1 at home, will slow down the Cardinals offense and bolster their position in the NFC North.
Bills at Bengals - The Bills are coming off a bye week to play a Bengals team who lost a tough one on the road to the Giants. Look for the Bills to try to exploit a weak rushing defense, but the Bengals will bounce back for a crucial win at home.
Bears at Giants - The Giants are coming off a close win at home against a formidable Bengals team. In the Eli era, this means they will lose an easily winnable game at home against the Bears.
Steelers at Browns - The Steelers lost a heartbreaking, statement game at home to the Cowboys. Now in a must-win game, the football gods have brought the Browns to them as a sacrifice. The Steelers will exact their revenge in Cleveland.
Buccaneers at Chiefs - The Bucs have been a strong road team, but they are coming into Kansas City to face the AFC West - arguably the best division in the NFL - leading Chiefs. The Chiefs win a close one at home.
Ravens at Cowboys - The Cowboys prevailed in a huge statement game against Pittsburgh, winning their 8th straight game. Barring a freak injury between now and Sunday, the current rule is don't pick against the Cowboys until they lose another game. The boys are back.
Jaguars at Lions - The Lions will take care of business at home against a Jaguars team that has lost four in a row.
Titans at Colts - The Colts left doubts about the Packers being a good team. The Titans solidified it. In a huge division game, expect the Titans to explode again offensively on a Colts defense that is last in the league. The Titans will gain a strong win that puts them in play to contend for first place in the division.
Dolphins at Rams - The Dolphins have won four in a row, and are looking to put together a run for a playoff spot. The last wildcard spot is held by the 7-3 Broncos. This means the Dolphins will have to win their division or improve their record. Look for the Dolphins to do just that, winning their fifth in a row in L.A.
Patriots at 49ers - The Patriots are coming off an upsetting loss at home, where they will take out their aggression on a bad 49ers team.
Eagles at Seahawks - The NFC East has been so good so far this season, that the last place Eagles would hold the final NFC wild card spot if the playoffs started today. The Seahawks, at home, are going to change the playoff picture, getting to rookie Carson Wentz, and winning convincingly at home.
Packers at Redskins - The Packers aren't a good team. No one wants to admit it, but the Redskins are a good team. The Redskins win a close one at home.
Texans at Raiders - This is a winnable trap game for the Raiders. The Texans are first in the AFC South, but they aren't a good team. The Raiders are having a magical season in one of the best divisions in the NFL. Even on a neutral field, in Mexico City, this is a game the Raiders will win, putting the league on notice that they are for real.
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